May 12th, 2014


London and Ireland Trip, October 2: Rock of Cashel and Kinsale

Let me share some more pictures of Lawcus Farm, because we loved it so much:
View from Lawcus Farm
Lawcus Farm

Another panorama; again you can click on this for a much larger image.
Lawcus Farm Panorama

The base of this table was made from the stump of a five-century-old oak on the property. Mark spoke more than once about how he wanted the Oak to be part of the Lawcus Farm story.
Lawcus Farm Tree of Life Table

Ralph and Mark in the entrance to our room:

And the two of us with Ann Marie.

When we said our goodbyes to Mark, he gathered us into his arms, bowed his head, and prayed over us that Lawcus Farm might confer some of its magic upon us and bless us in the rest of our travels and our return to the United States. I get misty-eyed every time I remember this. This is definitely a service that we have not received in any hotel.

For our first trip stop after Lawcus Farm, we went to Kells Priory. Once again, I am struck by how casual the treatments of monuments can be. Kells Priory dates back to 1193, but this historic ruin is left open to the public with no more guard than a revolving door to keep the sheep from straying out into the road. Well, and a large quantity of sheep droppings, which did diminish Lori’s enthusiasm.
Kells Priory
Kells Priory
Kells Priory

As we were driving around, from time to time we would see a wordless sign with an icon of a camera. Image from Wikipedia:

We thought this meant a scenic view, though we were baffled by the fact that often there was no place near to park and enjoy the view. This picture was taken at one of those signs where we could find a convenient place to stop. It was only after we returned to the United States that we learned that this sign means “speed limit enforced by cameras”. So this is an Irish landscape that is not claimed by road signs to be particularly scenic - but it shows what it was like to drive through central Ireland.

We arrived at the Rock of Cashel around lunchtime. Before touring the Rock, we had lunch at Granny’s Kitchen, a cheerful little cafe nearly in the shadow of the hill. Vegetable soup, a bacon and cheese toastie (much better than the previous evening’s toastie), and a ploughman’s lunch plate of bread and cheese.
Granny's Kitchen Granny's Kitchen Granny's Kitchen
Vegetable Soup Cheese and bacon toastie Ploughman's Lunch plate

The Rock of Cashel is a cathedral and its related buildings atop a hill. It’s not a particularly high hill, but it stands alone and offers a dramatic view of the surrounding countryside. It’s been used as a religious site for centuries (“Only documented to the fourth century AD”, the guide said deprecatingly), and is reputed to be where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity.
Rock of Cashel

If we were able to arrange every detail to best suit ourselves, our visit to the Rock of Cashel would have come at a time when it was not undergoing restoration. We didn’t manage to get a good view of the whole castle.
Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

We took lots of photos at the Rock of Cashel, and unfortunately most of them are not that good. The sky held a mixture of dark clouds and open patches, so every shot had to deal with both dark shadows and bright sunlight.
Rock of Cashel

The vicar’s building has been restored to the way it was around 1500. This is a large replica of a seal that was carried by the vicars as a medieval equivalent of a company credit card; they could charge purchases to the abbey’s account by showing the seal. This system was ended after twenty years or so because it was abused.
Rock of Cashel

The view of the countryside from the Rock of Cashel. At the right of this picture, there’s a chunk of tower that fell centuries ago and has not been moved.
View from Rock of Cashel

This ninth-century sarcophagus shows Viking influence, but it is lost to history who occupied it.
Sarcophagus at Rock of Cashel

Lori enjoyed imagining what it would have been like to stand in the cathedral centuries ago.
Rock of Cashel

We were told that in the 1920s, the graveyard was getting overcrowded, so they limited new burials to people who could demonstrate a family tradition of being buried there. Apparently there are still a few living people with the right to be buried there.

There are crosses on the site that are a millennium old, but this one is far more recent.
Rock of Cashel

We stopped by the Cork airport, because when we'd called Hertz about our accident on Monday, they'd asked me to bring the accident report to a Hertz location within a week. But when we got to the Hertz stop in the airport (after a great many roundabouts and a few wrong turns), the young man on duty was utterly uninterested in taking our accident kit. We grumbled at the pointless detour.

Our stop that night was in Kinsale, a small fishing and tourism town on the south coast of Ireland. Once again the medieval heritage was apparent in the attempts to park; I got so discombobulated by the narrow streets and complicated traffic that I missed the turn into the parking lot of our B&B - and it took me almost half an hour to get back, even with the GPS.

Lori was enchanted by the selection of tea treats that the B&B provided. The only one I remember by name was the white chocolate orange scones.
Tea at Old Presbytery

Kinsale claims to be the gourmet capital of Ireland, so we tried to have more upscale meals while we were there. For dinner, we ate at Jim Edwards.
Jim Edwards

I had a seafood chowder. This was my first encounter with seafood chowder in Ireland - and I didn’t like it very much. It had a very strongly fishy taste.
Seafood Chowder at Jim Edwards

Lori’s potato leek soup.

I had the hake entree, because I hadn’t heard of hake. Once again it turns out that despite my attempts to eat the local specialty even when it’s seafood, I am not that much of a seafood lover - and this had a strong fishy taste.
Hake at Jim Edwards

Lori is even less of a seafood lover than I am, but she had the baked salmon because it was a seafood town. Perhaps it’s just that we’re more familiar with salmon than hake, but we both liked hers much more than mine.

My dessert was an apple pie, and this was not a very good apple pie. Part of it, of course, was that British/Irish norms for pie are very different from American norms, so this came with a very thick crust. But even allowing for that, this was not worth finishing.
Lori liked her banoffee tart much more.
Apple pie at Jim Edwards
Banoffee Pie at Jim Edwards